Friday, September 08, 2006

Over there!

Okay, this is called LAZY.

My actual blog is here. This is just a cheat so I can comment on people's blogger blogs without constantly cutting and pasting.

But please, come play! We have cake! Concerts! Naked dancing men!

Okay, the naked dancing men not so much. But I do talk about weird iTunes searches a lot, and I am ALWAYS open to cake.

But if David Tennant shows up naked anywhere, I HOPE it's on my blog. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The upside of a random draft

The page count on my don't-look-down-draft of the governess story is 189, and I mean to see 200 before the day is out.  I'm smug in the knowledge that this is TNR 12 pt font, too, which means I have even more if you do standard manuscript formatting. Of course, it's all utter crap. Don't go thinking, either, that this is a sort of bashful trivializing.  It really is pretty much crap, by and large.  If I can't figure out where to start a scene or don't know why the scene is supposed to be there yet, I meander through sitting and thinking or describe the setting ad nauseum or just leap in at the first line of dialog.   I think about half the scenes have discerible beats at all, and most don't have any resolution but run out of steam as I do.  There is a huge temptation here to feel like I'm in deep shit, that the muses have left the building yet again. I've decided though, that this is better than the way I did this on the last story.  All my life until now I have plowed relentlessly from beginning to end of a draft, letting it morph along the way, then went back and started at the beginning and combed it out again and again, occasionally dropping it all to start over.  I pushed until each scene was as done as I could make it, as polished as possible.  It mostly worked for the last draft, but I still remember what a bitch that was and I admit part of what keeps blocking me is the thought of living in the Groundhog Day Draft again. I think this splatter-paint version of getting out a draft might be really good.  Occasionally a scene will grab me by the throat and I go lay it out, and it's not at all honed, usually, but it becomes a sort of tent pole for that section of the story.  I have this sucker plotted out in five acts and I've got scenes in every act.  I'm plodding chrologically as much as I can, but I've noticed I have tended to hit the bit turning points first, then the minor ones after, and as I examine the outline I'm already cutting/combining scenes.  And what's happening is more and more is that the story is taking shape slowly, looking sharper in some spots than others.  It's reminding me a bit of how I would imagine scuplting something, actually.  Like something would start out blobby and slowly gain form and detail.  Maybe the face would come out fast, but the shoulders would be hulky and rough for a long time.  The thing I most like about this method, however, is that no matter how cranky or not in the mood to write I am, I can hustle out a scene.  I've already written one scene this morning and polished up another two, tacking on a little more detail.  I feel like I could quit for the day with only mild guilt.  But it's only 7:30, and I have all of Anna's preschool to get more done.  Plus the afternoon while she's watching a show.  Plus maybe a nip or two this evening.  Basically, if it's okay to write utter crap and shape it up later, I could get four or five scenes in today.  If I made myself polish the heck out of the one I was working on, I think I'd be lucky to get one done and I'd probably still be dissatisfied. Of course, time will tell if this helps me later when I have to revise everything.  But once again, there are blessings in being unpublished and not racing to change this fact.  Nobody's pressing on me but me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Psychic household items

Jenny Crusie has blogged about her iPod reading her mind, and my husband has sworn it's happened to him, so my iPod behaving in a psychic manner seems almost a given. I think I can handle a psychic iPod. You just make up something about the battery and magnets and the power of sound and the genius of Steve Jobs and you've got enough to build a rationalization on. None of this, though, is going to explain my LOTR page-a-day calendar. It's been better than a horoscope for predicting my day for so long now that I found myself flipping the page this morning and wondering what my day had in store for me. It's a closeup of Frodo drawing a glowing Sting out of his scabbard. So, apparently I can look forward to today being full of Orcs. Very well, send them on. Just remember, I have STING. And I've had fencing lessons.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Terry Pratchett, I heart you big time

Okay, I have been wading slowly into Terry Pratchett over the last few years.  I am starting to wade faster.

Going Postal was a work of art, and I really need my own copy.  Soon.  I love anything with Death or Vimes, better when it's both.  But I just finished Guards!  Guards! and it was so good I just sat there and stared blissfully into space, drunk on book.

And then I realize how much of this brilliant man's work is out there which I have not yet had the pleasure to read.  And he's still alive and writing.

Mr. Pratchett, I'm reasonably sure I do not want to have another baby.  But if you showed up tonight and said as little as please, I would have one for you.  Just you.

And David Tennant.  But you know, he'd be absolutely required to participate in the production.  Probably in mutliple sessions, just to make sure we got it done right.

Ah, yes.  Husband links to this blog.  Well,  show up at the door wearing your brown suit and we'll pretend you're David T.

Right.  Possibly not a good idea to author blog posts while enjoying a shot of Jameson's.


So.  It's five days into the "please, story, talk to me" request, and I thought I'd report in.

I am so definitely not writing this story in order.  Not in ANY kind of order.  Yesterday I wrote a scene I kept seeing because of the first track on the soundtrack of A Beautiful Mind.

Did I share that story here?  Heidi's wild trip to purchase a CD?  Nope – in checking, I see the last entry was Saturday.  Well, basically on Sunday I stumbled onto the website of the movie A Beautiful Mind because I was cracking half-nervous jokes about how all my notecards and scribbles all over the bulletin board that takes up half my bedroom wall was making me feel like the guy from that movie, and then I wondered what his name was so I googled, and suddenly I was on the movie's website which played music from the soundtrack.  It was one of those in-your-gut OHHHHHH moments where you can't decide if you want to weep or laugh, because I heard about four bars of that stuff and knew I had to have it.  But iTunes was not helpful, uncharacteristically, and nobody in town had it.  And on a weird, weird hunch, I was sure they had it in West Des Moines, so I drove the hour to get there and sure enough, there it was. 

I just about started this next paragraph with a dismissive, "well, anyway," but I can't.  I've got to talk about that trip.  Because you need to know my husband and daughter were at home having a lazy Sunday, and as far as they knew I was driving half an hour to Ankeny to pick up some Nature's Miracle at Petsmart, and would maybe do a little hunting for that CD on the way.  There was no mention of being gone a total of two hours to go hunting for a CD I had no proof was anywhere, just a weird but powerful hunch.  And I also have to confess I didn't call and tell anybody, because I needed to just leap and go, not checking to make sure it was okay, just doing it.  I figured I had my phone and they'd call if they needed to, and I was just ready to take my lumps if I had any coming for being the crazy person who had to go chase a CD. 

(There were none, btw.  Not only did Dan not mind, he told people the story at work and said this kind of stuff was why he loved me.  I get misty-eyed every time I tell somebody that.  How did I ever get so lucky to find somebody who loved me BECAUSE I was crazy?)

On Sunday my little pilgrimage was scary but important.  On Monday it felt weird.  Yesterday I mostly didn't think about it.  But today as I'm writing this blog entry, I'm starting to realize that trip was a metaphor bigger than I can yet grasp.  I think that was a lesson in trusting my instinct.  I suspected that as early as Sunday, but that little road trip is going to come at me for years to come, I'd wager.  I wish I could describe what it was like to just know in my bones that CD was out there and that I had to have it.  Man, did I have to fight my Sensible German Lutheran Training.  The whole drive it nattered at me.  "You're being ridiculous.  You're being rude to your family.  You're wasting time.  You're silly.  You're stupid."  Every damn script I've ever had in my head, on and on it went.  But I could still see the CD, and all around it I could feel this pull that if I acted on this "ridiculous, rude, stupid" trip, I'd have something huge in my hands.

And just to add extra drama to the story, I had a specific place in my head for the CD to be, and it wasn't there.  I saw the Barnes and Noble on University Avenue in West Des Moines.  I saw it clear as day, and I knew the CD was there.  I got lost twice trying to find it, I sweated bullets at how long I was taking, and when I got there I saw the soundtrack to Beautiful Girls and something else with the word beautiful in it, but no ABM.  And let me tell you, I searched all the As, the Bs, and the Cs thinking it might have been misplaced.

Then something significant, really significant happened.  The SGLT nattering came down like a hammer, and without even thinking, I metaphorically reached up and knocked it away.  I wasn't shamed, I was pissed.  I'd seen that damn CD here.  It was damn well going to be here.

I decided instinct might need to be fine tuned, so I regrouped.  Murmuring, "Please, please, please" all the way to my car, I went to the Best Buy around the corner, with plans to hit the Borders across the square failing that.  The damn CD was sure as hell going to be somewhere in West Des Moines, or it was answering to me. 

It was sitting patiently waiting at Best Buy.  I gave a loud "Ha!" of triumph, snatched it, and went home. 

You know, this happens so much in my writing.  Usually not with CDs and cars and trips to Des Moines, but I have thresholds like this all the time.  Brick walls where I stand there and think how stupid I am for trying, where nothing seems to make sense and I have to take some crazy risk that there is no logic behind, only some strange, lonely instinct that never protects me, only asks me to cross the barbed wire of foolishness or the hot coals of shame to claim what it always whispers, quietly, is something very good.  I never have to go get it, either.  I could have left the CD there at Best Buy and gone home from Ankeny instead, safe and non-stupid.

But if I hadn't gone to get that CD, I wouldn't have heard the first track of that soundtrack.  I wouldn’t have seen the hero and heroine waltzing with breathless enchantment across the lawn of Kingston Park, wouldn't have been compelled to write it and find out why that scene came at me like that, wouldn't have sat here stunned yesterday morning as I watched more and more of the story open up like crystals in a kaleidoscope.   I wouldn't have spent most of yesterday rushing to assemble my wall of notecards as fast as my brain could spit them out, and I wouldn't be writing this blog entry now.

So hooray for stupidity.  Hooray for wasting time, for being rude, for being selfish and for listening to the strange voices in our head.  Here's to crazy instinct.  I'll take it over sensible stability any day of the week.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

writing voodoo

Okay, it might not be voodoo per se, but voodoo-esque at the very least. Whatever it is, I believe in it. I totally submit to writing voodoo. I am superstitious as hell when it comes to writing. I light the incense and candles, have the altar, collect totems and the whole bit. You know why? Because it works. I've been in the writing equivalent of a muddy spring rut for a few weeks now, thinking I'm getting out only to find I'm not at all, and it was getting really aggravating. It will get that way again. It's just that I was starting to very quietly freak out about the silences in my head, so the other day I did two Heidivoodoo tricks. 1. I looked for music. 2. I wrote a letter to the story. For the first, I went to iTunes and just let the electronic muses guide me. I ended up with a lot of Moby, and I can't tell you how I ended up there. All I know was suddenly I had the entire Ambient album and made various selections from Hotel. Then I went back on yesterday or the day before, it's all starting to blur -- anyway, the second time I ended up with Voodoo Child -- or is it Baby Monkey? Anyway, whatever it is, I bought it, and then wandered into some DJ Tiesto mixes (I'm sure I'm spelling Tiesto wrong, and I am sorry, DJ, but if I say your stuff rocks will you forgive me?) and bought "In My Memory" and "Close to You," or something like that. In two days I've listened to "In My Memory" over twenty times, and that's just the iTunes count. It's also in the car and on my iPod. For the second, I just opened my story journal and said please. It was pretty basic. It was also sincere. I just thought, you know, this can't hurt, because I'm already fashionably crazy. Actually, my rational brain had it all worked out that it was some sort of fabulous psychological exercise. Whatever. It was voodoo. And it worked. Two scenes today -- one only okay, the other not bad, I think, and neither in order. I'm also a long way into a snappy, anal outline which is candy for my I-love-order Virgo self, and the Wall of Notecards is coming soon, I can tell you that. All this is shorthand for, "the story is coming back." And maybe it was just time, maybe it was psychology, or maybe the gods are now appeased and giving me license to explore the world of story again. You know what? WHATEVER. So long as the voodoo works, I'm going to be happy. Happy, happy, happy. And writing again, thank God.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mercury, you little shit

Mercury is in retrograde. I find this out today. Well, HELL. That would have been a lot handier last week.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Swimming on Saturday

This is going to sound a little dramatic, but I'm really loving the Moby song, "When It's Cold I'd Like to Die."  No, I'm not suicidal.  But it's a good song.  It reminds me of the LOTR soundtrack, in both the sweeping orchestrals and in the Annie Lennox-sounding vocals.  (Is it Annie?  I know, I could check, but I like the mystery for now.)

I especially like the lyrics, but I like the whole thing.  It's how I've felt this week.  Now, I know, those of you who know me might be saying, "Excuse me, you've been chatty as hell."  Well, yes.  But those of you who KNOW me know how unattractive my little depressive bouts can be.  Also, I've known they were part of the dip before a coming eureka, so I've been waiting as patiently as possible and keeping them to myself.  Part of it is my poor disjointed hormones, part of it is my personal psychosis, and part of it is my (God help me) writing process.

But you know, really, especially about Thursday I was really thinking, "I don't want to swim forever.  I don't want to fight the tide.  I don't want to swim the ocean.  When it's cold, I'd like to die."  I'm not done swimming, no. But I wanted a break.  I wanted a BREAK. 

Weirdly, I got it.  My daughter got sick – not deathly sick or anything, just dramatically sick.  And my world became reduced to one room, one focus, and a lot of PBS TV in the background while I surfed the net with my baby in my arms.  Strange break, but it worked.  There's nothing like fighting an illness to get your head focused, but even more focusing is watching your child fight an illness.  And thinking about how if you lived in a different era or if viruses mutated just right, this might be the tide, the cold that made death real.  And suddenly I wanted to swim again, and bear my daughter with me.

I'm not glad my daughter got sick at all.  But I am grateful for the lesson I got out of the experience.  So yeah, my hormones are whacked and at this moment I've got fantastic menstrual cramps and even if I can find a focused time to write, my brain won't cooperate.  But I'm swimming, and I'm not cold.  If you can keep moving, you're warm enough to swim on.

And especially with my beautiful daughter with me, I've got amazing company.